The Jātaka on Level 1, Balustrade, Top, at Borobudur

high-definition creative commons photographs from the Jātaka, or Buddha’s Past Birth-Stories, together with further information.

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Jātakamālā 1
Birth-Stories
Jātakamālā 2
Birth-Stories
Other
Birth-Stories
The
Tableau

 

Other Birth-Stories
A Collection of Birth-Stories

This now concludes the thirty-four stories from the Jātakamālā. No known text has been found that will fit the remaining nearly 250 panels here and the 400 on the balustrade of level two. Some have been identified, though many are still unknown. They are mainly Jātaka or Avadāna stories though, as we can be confident from the ones that have been identified. From here on I will provide stories and descriptions, where known, and descriptions where the underlying story remains unidentified. I also give the Pāḷi reference for the story, even though we know that text was not followed at Borobudur. Many times we cannot see where one story starts or which reliefs are connected together. I have made an attempt to divide the panels into stories, though this is tentative, and should not be taken as definitive.

The Birth-Story of the Jackal
(Jātaka 152)

The story is told of a jackal who, thinking himself above his station, courts a lioness. She tells her brothers, and six of them die trying to avenge her. The Bodhisattva, however, roared such a roar that the jackal died of fright.

136 The Lion frightens the Jackal

It seems only one relief has been given over to this story. The jackal is seen on the bottom left, while the lioness is in her den on the right. The Bodhisattva is facing the jackal and is about to roar at him. On the tree above the jackal’s cave notice the peacock. Elsewhere we see conventional rocks and trees.

136 The Lion frightens the Jackal

136 The Lion frightens the Jackal

137 The Monkey, the Bird and the Jackal

The mountains and forests are again the setting for this story. It is a rather damaged relief, and hard to see the bird who stands in the middle. There is a monkey on the left, apparently holding the bird’s tail, and a jackal in its lair on the right.

137 The Monkey, the Bird and the Jackal

137 The Monkey, the Bird and the Jackal

138 Birds in Trees and Fish in a River

This panel is badly damaged and we cannot see what was happening at its centre as all is lost there. We do see a number of birds, including a peacock in the trees, and a river with some fish below. Whether it is connected to the previous panel is not clear.

138 Birds in Trees and Fish in a River

138 Birds in Trees and Fish in a River

 

One who cherished his Mother
(Jātaka 455)

The Bodhisattva was once a white elephant, and though he gave food to his herd for this purpose, they didn’t feed his blind mother with it. He therefore took his mother and retired to a forest, where he served and looked after her.

One time a man who had gone astray was rescued by the Bodhisattva, and shown the road back to the habitations of men. The ingrate, however, as soon as he saw profit in it, betrayed his saviour, and led the king’s men to capture him. They did so and led him off to court.

The Bodhisattva when sent the finest food, refused to eat. When the king enquired why, he explained about his mother being left behind in the forest with no one to care for her, and the king let him return to her.

139 A Young Elephant leads his Mother

We see once more a forest scene, with trees and a bird in the branches. Below there is a small elephant who is leading a larger one who comes along behind. There is a fair amount of damage to the depiction of the Bodhisattva by now.

139 A Young Elephant leds his Mother

139 A Young Elephant leds his Mother

140 People in a Forest Setting

This is a very badly damaged relief, and all we can see are some people sat on the left, and what looks like some ferns on the right.

140 People in a Forest Setting

140 People in a Forest Setting

141 Some People sitting on the Floor

There is not much left of this relief. We see a number of people sat on the floor, but very little else.

141 Some People sitting on the Floor

141 Some People sitting on the Floor

142 A Brahmin and a Man

Most of this relief is missing. On the right we see a brahmin is standing, and underneath on the floor one man sits with folded arms. Someone was sitting cross-legged in the middle.

142 A Brahmin and a Man

142 A Brahmin and a Man

143 Seven Spectators

Unfortunately we cannot see what was happening on the previous panel, but this seems to simply be an extension of the spectators to whatever was happening in that scene. We see seven men in various postures, including a brahmin on the top left. The one on the top right has had his face broken off.

143 Seven Spectators

143 Seven Spectators

144 Standing Figures

Most of the relief is missing, and we see only the feet on the main characters in the scene. Most appear to have been standing, with one sitting on the right.

144 Standing Figures

144 Standing Figures

It appears that at least some of the following reliefs may be a connected story, but which one has not been identified.

145 A Boy is presented to the Queen

A queen, or at least a noble lady, is sat on a seat on the left. She is looking away from the boy being presented to her in the middle of the frame. At the back stand four other ladies. The boy is outsize, as children generally are in the depictions at Borobudur.

145 A Boy is presented to the Queen

145 A Boy is presented to the Queen

146 The Boy is presented to some Brahmins

The boy is again seen with his nurses, and is once again too large for life. He is sat on his nurse’s knee. On the right we see what are probably four brahmins, one of whom holds his hands in añjali.

146 The Boy is presented to some Brahmins

146 The Boy is presented to some Brahmins

147 The Nobles caution the Boy

It is probably the same boy, but older now, who stands in front of three nobles who, by the look of the hand of the one in front, are cautioning him.

147 The Nobles caution the Boy

147 The Nobles caution the Boy

148 A Boy is presented to the Brahmins

This is probably another story now, as it is hard to see how this and the previous relief would be related. We once again see a boy on the lap of his nurse being presented to some brahmins who stand on the left. On the top right is a lotus pond, with a duck swimming in it.

148 A Boy is presented to the Brahmins

148 A Boy is presented to the Brahmins

149-151 Triptych of a Royal Figure

This is a triptych of the next three reliefs, they appear to be connected, but as we don’t know the story again, we cannot explain it entirely.

149-151 Triptych of a Royal Figure

149-151 Triptych of a Royal Figure

149 Two Brahmins under a Tree

The scene is once more outside in a grove as we see by the trees. Under the central tree we see two brahimns, the one on the left is gesticulating and appears to be instructing the one on the right.

149 Two Brahmins under a Tree

149 Two Brahmins under a Tree

150 A Royal in a Pavilion

We see one man sitting with his knee held in the support under a pavilion. His right hand rests on his thigh. He is probably a prince, or perhaps a king. There are three other characters with him, who all appear to be quite small in comparison to the main character.

150 A Royal in a Pavilion

150 A Royal in a Pavilion

151 Brahmin Spectators

This relief appears to be only an adjunct to the previous one, and presents a group of eight brahmins, four standing and four sitting, who hold themselves in various postures. At least two have their hands held in añjali.

151 Brahmin Spectators

151 Brahmin Spectators

152 Festivities at Court

Again we do not know the birth-story concerned, but what we see on this and the following relief is a rather dense tableau of festive scenes at court. The king is sat towards the left, and has the knee-strap on. Towards the centre we see wrestlers and then dancers, and many other scenes.

152 Festivities at Court

152 Festivities at Court

153 The Festivities Extended

This scene is divided into top and bottom, a division that actually begins of the previous panel. On the top left is a rotund man with a sword. Behind him one man appears to be offering a pair of skulls to him. Below him a woman sits with a baby on her lap. In the bottom row we see one man on the left turned towards the others, and behind them is an ox.

153 The Festivities Extended

153 The Festivities Extended

154 A Procession of Workers

We now have a scene where we see six workers holding their adzes, or something similar, marching to the right. They clothes are of the poor worker type, and they have various expressions as they proceed.

154 A Procession of Workers

154 A Procession of Workers

155 A Tray of Lotuses

This corner panel has two distinct scenes. On the left we see five people standing, or maybe walking. They are holding a large bowl of lotuses. On the right hand side are more people some kneeling, some standing. One turns back and worships.

155 A Tray of Lotuses

155 A Tray of Lotuses

156 A King gives Advice

It may be that this relief is connected with the previous two, and they are leading up to the king who is sat with his female attendant on the seat. He holds his hand out and appears to be giving advice, or perhaps a blessing. Others stand and sit around him.

156 A King gives Advice

156 A King gives Advice

157 Pots of Money

A man and a woman on the left approach a tree, which has pots of money or other riches underneath it, and is guarded by three soldiers. The top right section of the relief is missing, but probably there was nothing of significance on it.

157 Pots of Wealth

157 Pots of Wealth

158 Borne off in the Sky

This scene is so clear it should be identifiable, but we still do not know what the story is. The setting is in the clouds, and a supernatural being is carring away a man and a woman on a board. The couple look quite composed, so it is not sure if this is an abduction or not.

158 Borne off in the Sky

158 Borne off in the Sky

 

The Birth-Story of King Śivi
Avadānaśataka 34

King Śivi was a remarkable king who was generous to his subjects in every way, he gave them food, clothes and money. However, he has not given anything to the small animals in his kingdom, so he decided to go to the forest and donate his blood to the mosquitoes.

Śakra, lord of the gods, saw this, and decided to test him. Taking on the form of a vulture he went to the king and started pecking at him. The king gladly allowed him to do so, thinking only of the vulture’s welfare. Śakra was so pleased with this, he also asked king Śibi for his eyes, which again he gladly gave.

Śakra, of course, eventually restores the good king, and goes on to predict his attainment of Awakening.

159 Reclining in the Forest

A member of the nobility is seen reclining on a bench resting his head on his hand. Above him are trees, and below him are deer, so it is clearly in the forest. The figure is king Śibi, as is clear from the next relief. Here he offers his blood to the mosquitoes.

159 Reclining in the Forest

159 Reclining in the Forest

160 A Man and a Vulture

King Śibi here offers his flesh to the vulture. We see a large bird, and a man standing alongside, with the feet of another behind him. Most of the relief is missing, but it appears the man is holding his hand up for the bird to peck at.

160 A Man and a Vulture

160 A Man and a Vulture

161 The Bodhisattva holds Court

If the previous two were the King Śibi story then we would expect this to continue it, but it doesn’t seem to belong to that tale, but to another which now continues for a number of reliefs. Here we see someone – a Bodhisattva, a noble, a king? – sat on a raised seat amidst his noble followers. He is teaching them Dharma. Many blocks are missing again.

161 The Bodhisattva holds Court

161 The Bodhisattva holds Court

162 The Bodhisattva hears a Petition

Apparently the same character is here seen on a raised seat. He has a halo around his head, so it is probably the Bodhisattva. Before him are a man and a woman, the latter is worshipping him, and may be petitioning him over some matter. The setting is outdoors, in a park or in the jungle.

162 The Bodhisattva hears a Petition

162 The Bodhisattva hears a Petition

163 The Bodhisattva meets with Ladies

Seemingly the very same Bodhisattva is now interviewing two women, one of whom is worshipping him. Maybe it is a third woman sitting on the floor next to the money-jar. The Bodhisattva sits with his knee in a support strap.

163 The Bodhisattva meets with Ladies

163 The Bodhisattva meets with Ladies

164 The Bodhisattva meets a Man

Here again we see the main character is sitting on a seat, and meeting with a man, who sits on the floor and holds his hands in añjali. Above him stands a female attendant, who is holding a flywhisk.

164 The Bodhisattva meets a Man

164 The Bodhisattva meets a Man

165 The Bodhisattva meets with a Woman

A broader relief than most, this one shows apparently the same character sitting once more on a seat. Before him is first a woman, who is paying respects, and behind her several other characters in various postures.

165 The Bodhisattva meets with a Woman

165 The Bodhisattva meets with a Woman

166 Garuḍa and Another

We now have three reliefs which belong together. On the first we see a garuḍa, carrying a standard with a bird atop it, and the second character carries a standard with a conch shell. It is possibly Viṣṇu.

166 Garuḍa and Another

166 Garuḍa and Another

167 The Bodhisattva teaches Dharma

This is the centre piece of the three reliefs, and evidently the Bodhisattva is teaching Dharma to those in attendance on the other reliefs. He has a halo behind his head, very elaborate decorations on his body, and lions hold up his seat.

167 The Bodhisattva teaches Dharma

167 The Bodhisattva teaches Dharma

168 Two holding Standards

As on 166 we see here two people, one of whom sits with his palm open on his knee. The character next to him is badly damaged but holds his hands in respectful posture. Both have standards, with jewels atop them.

168 Two holding Standards

168 Two holding Standards

 

The Birth-Story of Campeyya
Jātaka 506

The kings of Anga and Magadha were constantly at war, sometimes one getting the upper hand sometimes the other. One time the king of Magadha was failing, and rather than fall into the hands of his enemy he jumped together with his horse into the river Campā, which separated the countries.

He landed right in the court of Campeyya, the king of the nāgas, and there he was respectfully greeted by the king. Explaining his plight to him, the nāga-king decided to help him, and together they beat the king of Anga and ruled together over both countries. Because of this, the king of Magadha built a special pavilion and there honoured the nāgas.

169 The King of Magadha and the Nāgas

The king of Magadha is very badly worn away, and we cannot see him at all clearly. Behind him are a servant and the horse he was riding when he jumped into the river. In front of him is a great congregation of nāgas and nāginis, who have offerings in their hands. Campeyya is presumably the larger figure at the front. It appears only one panel is given to this story.

169 A Congregation of Nagas

169 A Congregation of Nagas

170-172 A Triptych of Two Bodhisattvas and Seven Women

The story that is being told here is again unknown, but when we see all three panels together it is clear it is one scene. Their individual description follows.

170-172 A Triptych of Two Bodhisattvas and Seven Women

170-172 A Triptych of Two Bodhisattvas and Seven Women

170 A Male and Female Bodhisattva

There are two characters on the seat, one male and another female, both have haloes around their heads, and probably both are Bodhisattvas. The woman in front of this relief is worshipping them.

170 A Male and Female Bodhisattva

170 A Male and Female Bodhisattva

171 Three Women

These three women hold different postures, and are evidently related to the previous characters. One of them holds a lotus. They sit on a raised seat, under which are the usual pots, normally signifying wealth or riches.

171 Three Women

171 Three Women

172 Three more Women

A scene very similar to the last one, with three women on a raised seat. They hold various postures, and one has her hands in añjali. It is an extension of the previous reliefs.

172 Three more Women

172 Three more Women

173-174 Missing Reliefs

The next two reliefs are missing, as can be seen from the photograph. We, of course, have no idea what they may have depicted.

173-174 Missing Reliefs

173-174 Missing Reliefs

 

The Story of Surūpa
Avadānaśataka 35

Surūpa was the king of Benares. He had a beautiful queen and a son he loved much. The king very much wanted to hear Dharma, but he was advised that this is extremely rare except in the time of a Buddha. Still the king offered gold and honour to anyone who could teach Dharma to him.

Śakra, hearing of this, decided to test the king. He came to him in the form of a yakṣa and offered to teach him Dharma, but asked to be given his son to eat first, and when the king gave him, he also asked for his beautiful queen, which again he gave.

Finally the yakṣa asked for the king’s own body, but the king requested to hear Dharma first, and the yakṣa agreed, and recited a verse. The king then offered his body, at which point Śakra revealed himself, restored the queen and his son, and predicted his Awakening in a future life.

175 Surūpa offers Gold for Dharma

King Surūpa sits in a comfortable position on a large cushion. A brahmin stands in front of him with some sort of dish. Between them is a standard with a treasure chest conatining the gold on top of it. Below him are a man and a woman on the floor.

175 Surupa offers Gold for Dharma

175 Surupa offers Gold for Dharma

176 Surūpa offers his Son

On the left we see the huge yakṣa who is barely able to fit inside the relief. On the right is Surūpa and his queen. The king his holding out his son whom he will give to the yakṣa, so as to get the chance to hear Dharma. Next he will also offer his queen.

176 Surupa offers his Son

176 Surupa offers his Son

177 Six Courtiers

This relief is connected with the previous scene, of course. We see six courtiers, one of whom is a brahmin, and the other richly decorated, sitting under a tree. There is a parasol over the brahmin. They watch the proceedings in the previous panel.

177 Six Courtiers

177 Six Courtiers

178 The Yakṣa teaches Dharma

Here we see the yakṣa sitting comfortably on a throne with his hands held in teaching posture, he is reciting the verse for the king to hear. The king sits in front of him and holds his hands in añjali. Three courtiers sit behind him.

178 The Yaksa teaches Dharma

178 The Yaksa teaches Dharma

179 Four People listen to Dharma

We see four people on the right of this relief, two kneeling, and two standing, three of which hold their hands in añjali. On the left the teacher sits comfortably atop a slab, and appears to be holding forth on some subject or other.

179 Four People listen to Dharma

179 Four People listen to Dharma

180 A Meditator and two Others

The three characters in this scene are seated at roughly the same height, which is unusual. The one of the left is meditating. He is not a monk though, as Krom asserts, but could possibly be a Bodhisattva. Of the two characters on the right one may have been speaking, looking at his gesture. The other holds his hands in respect.

180 A Meditator and two Others

180 A Meditator and two Others

181 A Bodhisattva teaches two Others

The Bodhisattva is sat on a high seat, with a female companion behind him. In front are two characters who are apparently listening to him. A large money-pot is seen under a Bodhisattva’s seat.

181 The Bodhisattva teaches two Others

181 The Bodhisattva teaches two Others

182 A Courtly Scene

It is not quite clear what is going on in the scene, as the central character doesn’t appear to be teaching. He sits with two ladies on either side on him on his throne. Around is a large congregation of men on the left, and women on the right. The main figure holds something like a jewel in his hand.

182 A Courtly Scene

182 A Courtly Scene

183 A Bodhisattva sits in Comfort

The main character is a Bodhisattva who has a halo behind his head. He rests his hand on the thigh of the woman in front of him. On the right we see a woman holding a lotus flower aloft. What look like lions are under his seat.

183 The Bodhisattva sits in Comfort

183 The Bodhisattva sits in Comfort

184 Interview with a Bhikṣu

A damaged relief, with a couple of blocks missing. We can see on the right though what must be a bhikṣu, judging by his shaved head. Unfortunately his face is knocked off. Next to him are four characters, three are probably female, and one, who looks at the monk, is a male.

184 Interview with a Bhiksu

184 Interview with a Bhiksu

185 Lying in a Lap

Another very damaged relief with sections missing. We see what appears to be a sedan, with someone sitting up in it, and another person of ambiguous sex lying in his lap. Above left there appears to be the roof of a building.

185 Lying in a Lap

185 Lying in a Lap

186 Three Nobles

Most of this relief has gone missing, and Krom suggests it may have been taken to Thailand in the 19th century. We can see three nobles sitting on the far left, and there were a couple of people sitting on the right, but that is all we now see.

186 Three Nobles

186 Three Nobles

 

The Birth-Story of Bhūridatta
(Jātaka 543)

One time the Bodhisattva was reborn as a nāga, as one of four sons. He was named Datta, but after he visited the Realm of the Thirty-Three the gods renamed him as Bhūridatta, the Wise Datta, for he answered all of Śakra’s questions.

For one whole year Bhūridatta entertained the hunter Somadatta and his son in the nāga-realm, and before they left he offered them a wish-fulfilling jewel, but they declined it. The hunter’s wife was incensed when she heard they did not take it.

When the brahmin Ālambāyana saw the jewel he straight away took it. Somadatta showed Ālambāyana the Bodhisattva keeping the uposatha precepts, and later demanded the jewel from him, but when he threw it to him, it slipped back into the nāga realm.

Ālambāyana then managed to capture the Bodhisattva with a charm, and make him perform tricks. His brothers and half-sister found him near Benares, and rescued him.

187 The Bodhisattva and the Hunter

This seems to be the scene where the Bodhisattva welcomes the hunter Somadatta and his son to the nāga-realm. Bhūridatta is the foremost nāga who has his hands raised in salutation. It is perhaps his brothers and sister who are behind him.

187 Nagas on the Waters

187 Nagas on the Waters

188 The Bodhisattva keeps the Uposatha

The Bodhisattva, aware of his own shortcomings in being born a nāga, decides to keep the uposatha precepts. Here Somadatta is showing the brahmin Ālambāyana the Bodhisattva, who is sat in meditation.

188 The King of the Nagas in Meditation

188 The King of the Nagas in Meditation

189 The Nāga King and Queen

I cannot see how this scene, which features the meeting on a nāga and nāgini on the left, and a brahmin on the right, fits into the story. The couple sit atop a throne and appear to be conversing. The brahmin holds his hands in añjali as he watches the proceedings.

189 The Naga King and Queen

189 The Naga King and Queen

190 Four Nāgas in the Forest

A nāga and probably his queen are now sat atop a throne on the right of the panel. Before them two more nāgas sit on the floor, one of whom, a female, is holding her hand to her head. The whole is set under trees and is therefore in the forest.

190 Four Nagas in the Forest

190 Four Nagas in the Forest

191 A King receives Homage

As there are no nāgas featured in this relief it appears to be another story. We seem to have one king sitting atop his throne, with one hand held up in blessing. Two people kneel behind him, one of whom holds a lotus flower. On the right the foremost female also holds a lotus, and the male figure, a king, holds his hands in worship. There are four others in the scene.

191 A King receives Homage

191 A King receives Homage

 

Kacchapāvadāna
The Tradition about the Turtle

According to Krom the story comes from Kṣemendra’s Bodhisattvāvadānakalpalatā, which I can find neither in Sanskrit nor in translation. It seems the story was that a turtle, the Bodhisattva, saw a ship wrecked, and saved the men on board, and then offered his flesh to feed them. It is portrayed on four reliefs.

192-194 A Triptych of the Turtle Story

This shows the first three of the four reliefs which illustrate the story of the turtle.

192-194 A Triptych of the Turtle Story

192-194 A Triptych of the Turtle Story

192 Turtles and Fish in the Sea

The large turtle in the centre would be the Bodhisattva, of course. There are at least three other turtles portrayed, and many fish. They all swim in the open sea.

192 Turtles and Fish in the Sea

192 Turtles and Fish in the Sea

193 A Terrible Shipwreck

Still on the open seas we see a ship in great danger, with at least one person in danger of falling into the sea. On the front right is a great sea-monster with sharp teeth, and fishes swim around ready to eat the victims.

193 A Terrible Shipwreck

193 A Terrible Shipwreck

194 The Men are saved by the Turtle

Now quite bereft of their ship the men are being carried to safety by the giant turtle. They huddle up to each other on this perilous voyage over the seas.

194 The Men are saved by the Turtle

194 The Men are saved by the Turtle

195 The Turtle teaches Dharma

The turtle now stands on a raised platform, and seems to be addressing the men. He is evidently teaching them the Dharma of self-sacrifice. The men are listening intently, and one holds his hands in worship.

195 The Turtle teaches Dharma

195 The Turtle teaches Dharma

 

The Birth-Story of Nandiya
(Jātaka 222)

The introductory story is similar to Jātaka 455 above, One who cherished his Mother, but this time the protagonists are monkeys, not elephants.

The story tells of two monkeys who were head of a band of 80,000 monkeys living in the Himālaya. They used to lead the band, and send food back for their blind mother. But when they returned to see her they found her wasted away, as the food had never reached her. The monkeys therefore decided to retire from leadership and take their mother into the forest and look after her personally.

Now there was a brahmin, who having taken his education at Takkasilā took his leave of the teacher. The teacher cautioned him about his cruel nature, and warned him about deeds and their results. Having returned home he married, and knowing no other trade he took to hunting.

Now one day while out hunting he came across the three monkeys and killed them one by one. On return home he found his own home had burned down, his wife and children were dead, and when he approached a rafter fell on his head and killed him, and he went straight to hell for his wickedness.

196 The Bodhisattva feeds his Mother

The blind mother monkey is on the left and has fruits in both hands. Her son, the Bodhisattva, is extending a bowl towards her as he serves her. the whole takes place under a fruiting tree.

196 The Bodhisattva feeds his Mother

196 The Bodhisattva feeds his Mother

197 The Bodhisattva carries his Mother

On this corner relief we see on the left the Bodhisattva carrying his mother on his back as they head off into the Himālaya. On the right is the great fruiting banyan tree where they will set up home. Underneath, curiously, is a row of money bags.

197 The Bodhisattva carries his Mother

197 The Bodhisattva carries his Mother

198 The Bodhisattva cares for his Mother

In this relief the same theme continues, as we see the mother relaxed on a seat underneath the tree. The Bodhisattva is kneeling in front of her. Meanwhile birds and animals are seen in the trees.

198 The Bodhisattva cares for his Mother

198 The Bodhisattva cares for his Mother

199 The Hunter takes aim at the Monkeys

In the last of these reliefs illustrating this story we see more men and monkeys that we expect. On the left three men have come and the brahmin hunter us taking aim with his bow at the monkeys who huddle together in the right. There are also mother monkeys with children around.

199 The Hunter takes aim at the Monkeys

199 The Hunter takes aim at the Monkeys

200 Courtiers on Foot and Seated

The focus of this wide panel seems to be on the next relief, as there is no centre for the action on this one. What we see on the left is a few people, badly defaced now, walking or running; then a large group of courtiers, including some swordsmen, seated on the floor, and there are some horses behind.

20 Courtiers on Foot and Seated

20 Courtiers on Foot and Seated

201-203 A Triptych of the Generous King

These three scenes and the previous one, and the following one are all connected, but we have lost the key to understanding the story here as elsewhere.

201-203 A Triptych of the Generous King

201-203 A Triptych of the Generous King

201 A King hears a Petition

A king sits with a female attendant on a raised seat. He has his knee in a support. In front of him, and rather low down, is someone who appears to be petitioning him. He has a guard with him. There are also two women standing, but their role is unknown. A very tiny human figure sits next to the money pot below the chair.

201 A King hears a Petition

201 A King hears a Petition

202 The King distributes Alms

It looks like this is the same king, but is not entirely clear as the figure has changed in appearance. Now he is out and about distribuing alms, in this case to a brahmin. Behind the king we see a female attendant with a fly whisk.

202 The King distributes Alms

202 The King distributes Alms

203 Waiting for Alms

This relief is dependent on the previous one, and is evidently a group of people waiting for the alms being given out by the king. The attention of the characters is on what is happening on the previous relief.

203 Waiting for Alms

203 Waiting for Alms

204 A Divider

In the middle is a tree which divides the scene. The characters on the left are paying attention to the previous scene, while those on the right look towards the coming relief.

204 A Divider

204 A Divider

205 Meeting with the King

This relief is strikingly similar to relief no. 201. The king sits on a seat with a female attaendant, while in front of him at a low position a male character seems to be addressing him, or listening to him. As before there are two females standing above him.

205 Meeting with the King

205 Meeting with the King

206 A Brahmin and the King

The king in this scene is very engaged with his queen, as he sits partially across her legs. Lower on the right we see a brahmin who again appears to be petitioning the king. Behind him is a three-pronged standard, probably indicating he is a woshipper of Śiva.

206 A Brahmin and the King

206 A Brahmin and the King

207 The King sits in Meditation

The charcter here does look similar to the one in the previous scenes, and may be the same king. He sits on a throne in meditation posture (dhyāna-mudrā), while three female attendants look on. One of them holds a dish.

207 The King sits in Meditation

207 The King sits in Meditation

208 The Retinue of the King

This panel, like a few we have been looking at at this point, is really just a filler. The king’s retinue, most with their attention on the previous panel, are lined up, some standing, and some sitting on the floor.

208 The Retinue of the King

208 The Retinue of the King

209 The Bodhisattva gives his Blessings

Again a similar composition to 201 and 205, this panel shows a king, this time with a halo behind his back, probably indicating that he is the Bodhisattva. He is sat on the raised seat with a female alongside him. In front of him sits a man whom he seems to be blessing.

209 The Bodhisattva gives his Blessings

209 The Bodhisattva gives his Blessings

210 The Bodhisattva distributes Alms

Again, very similar to the previous scenes, we see the king now out and about distributing alms to those in need. In this case a woman, with her hands raised in añjali, prepares to receive the gift. Perhaps she is a widow.

210 The Bodhisattva distributes Alms

210 The Bodhisattva distributes Alms

211 Two Bodhisattvas discuss Dharma

There is a large raised platform, with two people on it, both of whom have haloes, and are presumably Bodhisattvas, or something similar. They each have a female attendant. Devas are not normally represented like this, so I disagree with Krom who thinks one of them may be Śakra.

211 Two Bodhisattvas discuss Dharma

211 Two Bodhisattvas discuss Dharma

212 A Procession Scene

There appears to be two main characters walking to the right, though much of their figures is now missing. Behind them is a female, who holds the parasol. And behind her are four characters kneeling on one knee, one holding another parasol, and some elephants and a horse above them.

212 A Procession Scene

212 A Procession Scene

213 Worshipping the King

We see a king, or similar figure, sitting on a throne, which one leg pendant, and the knee of the other supported by a strap. Three men sit in front of him, two of whom are worshipping. There is also a fly whisk, and a parasol.

213 Worshipping the King

213 Worshipping the King

214 A Wishing Tree

I think this scene is just a divider separating stories, and has no more significance than that. We see similar scenes elsewhere at Borobudur that serve the same purpose. Here we see two kinnaras in front of a heavenly wishing tree. One appears to be making an offering.

214 A Wishing Tree

214 A Wishing Tree

215 Imploring the King

We see a king, or at least a highly-placed personage, sitting in relaxed posture on a seat. On the left is the female attendant, or perhaps a queen, who always seems to be pictured with a king. There are three others, two of whom are gesticulating.

215 Imploring the King

215 Imploring the King

216 Brahmins approach the King

In this scene the king has two females around him. He is looking rather pensive. On the right are four people, two brahmins who are standing and perhaps addressing the king, and two others who sit, one of whom holds his hands in añjali.

216 Brahmins approach the King

216 Brahmins approach the King

217 A Beggar approaches the Queen

For once the queen is the centre of stage in this relief. She is receiving someone who is down on his hands and knees in front of her. I think this is a beggar, but Krom thinks it may be a brahmin. The queen’s female attendant fans her. Under her seat a boy holds the money pot.

217 A Beggar approaches the Queen

217 A Beggar approaches the Queen

218 Distributing Gifts

In this corner panel we see a male figure on the left carrying a jar in his left hand. In front of him are several characters who all appear to be ready to receive gifts from him.

218 Distributing Gifts

218 Distributing Gifts

219 Giving a Gift of Cloth

Perhaps the same man is seen in this relief, and here he is seated on a stool, and in his raised left hand is holding cloth, which he is presumably giving to the man on his knees who has his hands cupped to receive it. There are two others in the scene, both gesticulating.

219 Giving a Gift of Cloth

219 Giving a Gift of Cloth

220 Offerings for the King

Again maybe it is the same character here as in the previous scenes. This time he sits atop a seat, with three females around him. In front some people are standing and others are kneeling, and many are holding gifts for him.

220 Offerings for the King

220 Offerings for the King

221 A Nāga in a Lotus Pond

The principal character here is the nāga who is sitting in the raised lotus pond more or less in the centre of the relief. People appear to be taking water away from the pond, so presumably it had auspicious powers. One man in front of the nāga is holding a waterpot. The scene is very distinctive, yet no story is known that will match it.

221 A Naga in a Lotus Pond

221 A Naga in a Lotus Pond

222-224 Triptych of the Bodhisattva

These are three connected scenes, of course, which I will describe in more detail below. It is not clear whether the scene that follows these three is connected or not.

222-224 Triptych of the Bodhisattva

222-224 Triptych of the Bodhisattva

222 Two Men under a Tree

We see two men sitting outside and under the tree which is in the background. The one on the left has had his face broken off. He holds one hand up with forefinger and thumb touching, and the other with palm upwards. The one in front has a bow and arrow.

222 Two Men under a Tree

222 Two Men under a Tree

223 The Bodhisattva and his Female Attendants

This is the centre panel of the triptych. The Bodhisattva is sat in a comfortable position with one leg on his throne, and the other pendant. On either side, and at a slightly lower level, kneel a pair of female attendants, or it may be queens. The Bodhisattva appears to be making a point, holding his hand in a kind of teaching posture.

223 The Bodhisattva and his Female Attendants

223 The Bodhisattva and his Female Attendants

224 Two Men under a Tree

The right hand side relief in this triptych. Again we see two men sitting under a tree, which is more elaborate this time. The one on the left holds a lotus flower, while the one on the right holds a scythe.

224 Two Men under a Tree

224 Two Men under a Tree

225 The King blesses Four Men

We seem to see a king, or man of high standing, seated on a large cushion, with a female behind him. In front of the king are four men under two trees. The king seems to be blessing them, or giving them something. The hands are partially broken off preventing us from being clear on this.

225 The King blesses Four Men

225 The King blesses Four Men

226 The King turns away from two Brahmins

A king sits with one leg pendant on a raised seat, with a large money pot underneath. He is looking away from the two brahmins who appear to beseech him. The female on the seat looks on.

226 The King turns away from two Brahmins

226 The King turns away from two Brahmins

227 Devas pour down Riches

Two devas fly through the air, one of whom has a pot which is turned upside down, and from which riches fall on to the people below. The men and women appear to be gathering them up. One of them holds what may be a waterpot.

227 <i>Devas</i> pour down Riches

227 Devas pour down Riches

228 The Bodhisattva in Recumbent Posture

There is an elaborate forest scene, with trees, a bird and a deer in the background. In the fore we see the Bodhisattva lying down in the lion’s sleeping posture, with one foot on top of the other. He has one hand under his head and another resting on his thigh.

228 The Bodhisattva in Recumbent Posture

228 The Bodhisattva in Recumbent Posture

229 A Group of Standing Men

We see a group of nine men standing, and partially turned to the right. They are probably attending to the action on the next relief. The are in various postures, and one holds what seems to be an arrow.

229 A Group of Standing Men

229 A Group of Standing Men

230 Śakra and the Bodhisattva

The figure who is sitting on the seat is probably the Bodhisattva. In front of him is Śakra, lord of the gods, who is holding something in his right hand, probably a casket or a large jewel. Crouching down on the right hand side is his vehicle Airāvata, as can be seen from his large ears and the tusk in his hair.

230 Sakra and the Bodhisattva

230 Sakra and the Bodhisattva

231 The Bodhisattva and Attendants

The Bodhisattva is seated on a raised seat, underneath which are two money pots. He has two female attendants with him, one of whom is holding a flywhisk. All three have on the elaborate dress of the court.

231 The Bodhisattva and Attendants

231 The Bodhisattva and Attendants

232 Śakra pays Homage

On the right we can identify the parasol holder as Airāvata again, so we know the character holding the incense burner must be Śakra. He sits on a raised seat with two others, both holding their hands in añjali. Śakra’s attention appears to be on the previous relief, which featured the Bodhisattva.

232 Sakra pays Homage

232 Sakra pays Homage

233a A Dancing Party

The next two scenes, which are actually seperate, are part of a corner panel. On a raised platform we see a female dancer in much the same posture as we witness at Angkor. Around her are a large group of male and female characters who are playing cymbals and keeping time for her. A male figure on the left of the main character may be clapping.

233a A Dancing Party

233a A Dancing Party

Jātakamālā 1
Birth-Stories
Jātakamālā 2
Birth-Stories
Other
Birth-Stories
The
Tableau

 

Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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